# Deviation from average GRE score

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Hey all,

I have a quick question regarding the average GRE scores for schools. Let's say the average GRE score for a school is 70th percentile, and you score 60th on one section (calls this verbal, for the sake of it) and 80th on another section (continuing with our example, this will be quantitative). Would the quantitative section make up for the verbal? Or should one fret over the verbal score? I'm not sure if schools treat both of them equally and take the "average" between both (so then average between 60 and 80 would be 70!)

Yes, I am speaking from experience.

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I would not fret over the published "average" GRE scores for two reasons:

1. Average score means that, if the scores are normally distributed, half of the people admitted scored below this.

2. You don't know how strongly correlated the GRE score is with admission. At schools that don't weigh the GRE very heavily, you might as well be worrying whether you are the "average height" for an admitted student.

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Hey all,

I have a quick question regarding the average GRE scores for schools. Let's say the average GRE score for a school is 70th percentile, and you score 60th on one section (calls this verbal, for the sake of it) and 80th on another section (continuing with our example, this will be quantitative). Would the quantitative section make up for the verbal? Or should one fret over the verbal score? I'm not sure if schools treat both of them equally and take the "average" between both (so then average between 60 and 80 would be 70!)

Yes, I am speaking from experience.

In addition to what @TakeruK said, I'd also add that the answer depends on what program you're in (I know, this is not the most clear-cut answer, but it's true). Some programs weigh the verbal section more heavily, others the quant. That's why I'd imagine an average of verbal and quant might be irrelevant because they're looking for verbal or quant skills, not a statistical smudge between them.

And if you're a point or two below "average" on either section might matter less than if you were 5 or 10 points below.

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Oh also, you are quoting percentile scores in this example, but I think in many fields, it's the scaled score (i.e. out of 170) that matters more than the percentile score. The percentile score compares your performance to every single test taker. However, it's rare that the school cares about this information, unless they want to do some kind of cut off (usually a fairly low cutoff) as a first pass. If they do use GRE scores to compare candidates, it will most likely be the scaled score, because they only care about how you compare to the other applicants, not the test taker population at large.

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10 hours ago, DogsArePeopleToo said:

In addition to what @TakeruK said, I'd also add that the answer depends on what program you're in (I know, this is not the most clear-cut answer, but it's true). Some programs weigh the verbal section more heavily, others the quant. That's why I'd imagine an average of verbal and quant might be irrelevant because they're looking for verbal or quant skills, not a statistical smudge between them.

And if you're a point or two below "average" on either section might matter less than if you were 5 or 10 points below.

Hey @DogsArePeopleToo, I agree with what you are saying about weighing verbal vs. quant. Is it true that some biology programs care more about verbal and others care more about quant?

9 hours ago, TakeruK said:

Oh also, you are quoting percentile scores in this example, but I think in many fields, it's the scaled score (i.e. out of 170) that matters more than the percentile score. The percentile score compares your performance to every single test taker. However, it's rare that the school cares about this information, unless they want to do some kind of cut off (usually a fairly low cutoff) as a first pass. If they do use GRE scores to compare candidates, it will most likely be the scaled score, because they only care about how you compare to the other applicants, not the test taker population at large.

Hmm, I've never seen any schools post average GRE scaled score. Also, I just noticed you're a Canadian student attending an American university. I'm looking to be in the same boat as you!

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Hey @DogsArePeopleToo, I agree with what you are saying about weighing verbal vs. quant. Is it true that some biology programs care more about verbal and others care more about quant?

Hmm, I've never seen any schools post average GRE scaled score. Also, I just noticed you're a Canadian student attending an American university. I'm looking to be in the same boat as you!

UPenn has their averages posted on their website, and Cornell has their minimums posted. Also, for the sciences in general, the quant tends to be more important; however, GRE averages (and scores for that matter) are not good ways to gauge chances of admission.

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Hmm, I've never seen any schools post average GRE scaled score. Also, I just noticed you're a Canadian student attending an American university. I'm looking to be in the same boat as you!

It could be a matter of field then? Actually most schools in my field don't post average GRE scores at all, but when they do, I generally see scaled scores.

Let me know if you have any questions about attending schools in the US  (send me a message if so!)

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